Sure, it’s easy to say “Only eat when you’re truly hungry.” However, sometimes recognizing real hunger pains from emotional cravings is more difficult than it sounds. Many of us have formed eating habits that may have put our body’s hunger signals out of tune.
Have you seen a commercial or read an article about a certain food recently?
This may have led to your craving, especially if there are visuals! Try distracting yourself with something physical such as cleaning, walking the dog, playing with your kids, or going to the gym.
While you were walking down the block, did you subconsciously notice the gooey pastries in the bakery window or smelled melted cheese in a pizza parlor?
Even hours later, this encounter could prime you for specific cravings.
At work, were you tempted by the sounds of chip bags opening or a microwave beeping?
This could lead to “Food Noise” if you associate these sounds with foods you crave. Blast some music to dance and sing to and see if you actually feel hungry or if you are just sensing your “Food Noise.”
Has it been more than four hours since your last meal?
You may crave something sugary or starchy because your blood sugar dropped. Instead, listen to your “Food Voice” and really understand what you’re craving and why. If you really feel you need a starchy small bowl of pasta, then enjoy. However, if you noticed that a healthy, low-cal salad filled with veggies, protein, and maybe some legumes also sounds satisfying. You then have the opportunity to choose exactly what you want. You control your eating decisions.
Are you stressed or anxious?
Instead of eating to try and distract yourself from your anxiety, try taking some deep Yoga breaths. Better yet, get yourself to a Yoga class! Or, try some interval training. On the treadmill, elliptical, bike, stair-master, rowing machine, or any of your other favorite cardio machines, do circuits of easy-paced activity for a minute and fifteen seconds and then sprint, exerting about an 8 or 9 (on a 10 scale) of energy, for 45 seconds. Do this for at least 20 minutes and you’ll immediately feel more relaxed and able to make better food choices.
Are you craving chocolate?
You could be craving magnesium. Snack on some nuts or seeds or put them in your salad to fight your cocoa urges.
Have you been drinking enough water?
Your body may be mistaking thirst for hunger. Anytime you feel your “Food Voice” is being clouded by your “Food Noise,” start with a glass of water, wait ten minutes, and see if you still have a specific craving because you are truly hungry for it or if you just got caught by one of your noshing triggers.